Snow in London

It’s been really cold in London very recently leading to some significant snowfall. It doesn’t snow a lot here but among the travel chaos and freezing temperatures, the snow looked beautiful. As per usual the cat stayed tucked away somewhere, having ventured out in the garden first.

And our garden bench looked very pretty and wintery in a layer of snow.

In the centre of London grand buildings looked even more scenic with a snowy surroundings.

Most of it has melted away now and everything is back to normal. It was nice to have a blanket of snow for a while that can transform a landscape, even amid the chaos and cold.

Here’s to the best of 2017

We’ve reached the end of 2017 and in some ways it’s felt liked a long year, in another it’s like it passed by quicker than ever. I’ve been lucky to go to lots of amazing places this year with family and friends and I leave you with some of my favourite photos that I took. I hope 2018 is an amazing, blessed year for you and me and that the World is calmer, more peaceful and that ease comes to those experiencing hard times.

Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for taking an interest in my little world.

Mist and leaves

This is a photo from the Palm House in Kew Gardens from my trip there earlier this year. The Palm House is a greenhouse full of tropical plants and trees and to create the right atmosphere hot steam is released at intervals to make the air moist and hot. These wide leaves from a tall tree amongst the steam really made me feel like I was in a dense jungle. I also love the colour of the green leaves beneath the misty fog, creating an eerie look.

Hampton Court Palace

I went to Hampton Court Palace a few weeks ago with my family for a day out. The Palace was once the home of King Henry VIII and was built in the Tudor style in 1514. The building and grounds are huge, with mazes, gardens and so much more.

Walking up to the Palace and through the entrance was a large courtyard. There were huge tall pillars along a walkway leading to other rooms, high walls with a decorative clock and a fountain with statues to depict what life may have been like.

Inside were some beautiful rooms and staircases. The King’s Staircase was especially wonderful, with a huge painting across the entire wall and ceiling, and an intricately made handrail leading up the stairs.

The rooms were set up as they would have been when it was lived in, with costumes and props on display and with facts of King Henry’s life there. The inside ground walkways opened up to courtyards that had fountains and statues.

On the other side of the building was the was the Queen’s Staircase, also quite beautiful, and was lit in a soft, warm light.

After looking around the main part of the Palace we headed towards the gardens. The Great Fountain Garden is one of the largest and was one that we came upon first. Just as we entered a horse and carriage pulled up, and we all piled on excitedly for a ride around the garden.

After our ride we walked towards the other gardens, the main one was The Privy Garden which was set out in an Italian style and was very well looked after. Along one side was a long, vine coloured walkway which was lovely for a stroll. Nearby were other well kept, but smaller gardens. I personally loved walking through the rose garden which gave off an amazing scent.

The Palace also had a maze, which is England’s oldest surviving at 300 years old. We had fun looking for the centre and then our way out. Next we visited the huge play area for children, with high bridges, hills and sculptures. Hidden away, the Palace also had The Great Vine, the largest and oldest known grapevine in the world, at over 240 years old.

There was a lot to see, with some beautiful, grand rooms, staircases and gardens, and we easily spent a whole day there, after which we were all completely exhausted. I can see now, why Hampton Court Palace is so popular and it was amazing to see and learn about the history of how Kings and Queens of our past lived in such an opulent palace.

St Dunstan in the East

London has some beautiful old buildings, some that are hundreds of years old. One such building that I visited recently was St Dunstan in the East which was a church built in 1100. It was badly damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and then again in the second World War, after which instead of repairing, was turned into a public garden. Over time nature has grown around and over the stunning, ornate walls, doorways and windows making the view look almost enchanting and something out of a romantic fairy tale.

The steeple built by Sir Christopher Wren has survived and stands tall over the garden, and the rest of the building built in a gothic style looks even more amazing as it has been weathered by time and the elements.

The vibrant green leaves of the shrubs and climbers create a drastic contrast against the huge, grey stone walls as well as dampening the noise a little making it easy to believe that you’re the only one around.

This garden is tucked away in the centre of London and surrounded by modern buildings looks almost surreal. Once you’re within the walls though you feel transported to an older time, and the tranquil feel of the place along with the stunning architecture and nature make this a spot that I would love to come back to.

Impromptu visit to Kew

One of my favourite places in London is Kew Gardens, so when my sister and her husband invited me for an impromptu trip recently I couldn’t say no. Kew is known for having plants, trees and flowers from around the world, there’s so much to see and it’s a great place to get lost in for the day.

First stop was the Hive which is a large structure made of metal and has lights that blink according to bee activity in a real beehive at Kew.

You can’t go to Kew and not visit the Palm House, which holds tropical plants from around the world. It’s usually really hot in here and as usual I had to wait for my camera to de-fog before I could take some photos. One plant we were pleased to find was the Sensitive plant. When you touch the open leaves they react immediately and close together.

From there we went to the Waterlily House hoping to find the giant lily pads that I remember from my childhood but have missed on my previous visits. Unfortunately they’d been moved, so I’ll have to try again another time. I did, however see some pretty waterlily flowers though.

Next we went to the Woodland area, and with it being late summer and the weather unsettled we got caught in a heavy downpour, thankfully though we were able to shelter under a giant Elm tree until the rain stopped. The Woodland area had a great number of trees of all types, my favourite though were the Redwood trees. These giants have a reddish, rough grain trunk and can grow to a phenomenal size.

Walking further along came across a huge wooden table, which seems like it would be perfect for all my family when they come to dinner! And hidden nearby was a log trail that you could walk across, made up of different types of trees, so educational as well as fun. There was also a badger set and tunnels you could go into.

By the time we reached the log trail we’d made it to the far end of the grounds and it was getting late so we started heading back towards the gates. I had a relaxing, fun day out and it’s always a pleasure and a privilege to see the beautiful plants, trees and flowers that can be found around the world so close to where I live.

Holland Park, London

We’ve had some lovely weather this summer in London and I was able to make the most of it by going to Holland Park one sunny day. The park has so many different types of plants and flowers, and it was a delight to walk along the winding paths taking in all the vibrant colours and varying scents.

One of the main features of the park is it’s beautiful Japanese Kyoto Garden. I was surprised to see that they had Koi carp (and pennies) in the pond as well as a peacock strutting around. There was a pretty waterfall and a walkway that allowed you to cross the pond and through the garden. I found the garden very peaceful and aesthetically pleasing.

There are also some smaller gardens within the park, some that held interesting statues, and others that had stunning flower displays, as well as a giant game of chess.

Overall the park had some beautiful features and you can tell it was very well maintained, and on a sunny day it made for a lovely day out, one that I would definitely recommend.

Slowing Down a Waterfall

I tried my hand at creating a misty water effect on a waterfall in the park yesterday. This is usually achieved by slowing down the shutter speed to allow the light into the lens for longer and creating a sense of movement as the water falls.

Here’s the fountain on a normal shutter speed. You can see that the water is frozen in time and is broken into droplets.

In this second photo where I slowed down the speed of the shutter you can see that the water looks continuous and misty, like flowing water.

The key thing with trying to create a misty effect is that you need a tripod to hold the camera completely still while the shutter closes, as any movement causes the photo to become blurry, like the second photo is a little as I was holding the camera in my hand trying to be still.

I’m pleased with the results so far but hopefully I’ll get more practice and a tripod so the next time I come decide to shoot a flowing river, rapid stream or just a pretty fountain I can aim to get some great photos.